As citizens reflect on the recent election and consider actions by candidates and their supporters, it’s critical to identify areas where campaign-finance law needs strengthening. One area that is particularly problematic is oversight for municipal elections. In Edina, an unknown entity sent out a color 6-by-9-inch postcard messaging voters to “vote YES for Ron Anderson. He opposes the Lid, and will pump the brakes on runaway development in Edina.” The card also instructed people to visit websites www.andersonforcitycouncil.com and www.stopthelid.com. Visitors who went to www.stopthelid.com ended up at the Edina Residents for Responsible Urban Development website, where they could access a voter guide that also promoted Anderson.
Although promotion of this candidate on this postcard is clear and strong, there was no disclosure statement. While this is likely a clear violation of Minnesota Statute 211B.04, which requires disclosure statements, as well as a violation of 211A.02, which requires individuals and entities who spend more than $750 to report, there is no entity that will actually investigate. It turns out the Minnesota Campaign and Public Disclosure Board does not have jurisdiction over municipal candidates — concerned citizens are told to file a complaint with the Office of Administrative Hearings. But this office only evaluates evidence, and to file a complaint, one has to identify the individual or entity that sent out the anonymous political mailing … that did not have a disclosure.
It is possible the card influenced the election outcome. Mr. Anderson ended up with the greatest number of votes for City Council, although he entered the race very late in the election cycle. His campaign did not have much visibility in Edina with the exception of this widely mailed postcard and the associated websites. I feel it is possible that Bob Stewart could have won re-election, or that challenger Janet Kitui could have been elected — she came in closely behind Stewart. If this activity goes unchecked in 2018, what will 2020 look like?
Julie A. Risser, Edina
Abstentions in Congress (ahem: Walz) could have made difference
Last week, the U.S. House passed HR 6784, the so-called “Manage our Wolves Act” authored by Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., that removes Endangered Species Act protections from all wolf species but one across the nation (“House passes bill to drop gray wolf protections,” Nov. 17). Even worse, it will prohibit judicial review after passage in the Senate.
The roll call notes that Rep. Tim Walz, now our governor-elect, did not vote. Sadly, the act passed by only 16 votes — which might have been countered by those who abstained.
Minnesota’s wolves are a keystone species that, despite a much-diminished population, helps protect the balance of hundreds of species across their range, safeguards many communities from erosion, upholds the health of our streams and rivers, and deters the spread of certain prion diseases that ravage human health.
The gray wolf belongs to the people of Minnesota, not the special interests that steer both of our morally diminished political parties.
More than 80 percent of Minnesotans oppose the hunting and trapping of wolves here, and Congress exists to represent not only the people but the ecosystem that sustains them. Any political effort to remove protections from the wolf will serve as a precedent for anti-science politicians to delist many other species.
Neil Ross, Minnetonka
‘Take advantage of the shelter’ offered? It’s just not that easy
On Monday, I watched a news conference featuring the Minneapolis fire chief, regarding the fire at the homeless encampment along Hiawatha Avenue (Minnesota section, Nov. 20). He did not mention the lack of shelter for single adults; instead, he decided to talk about how people at the camp are turning away shelter.
A few questions:
1) Has a new shelter opened that is available only to folks at the camp?
2) Are people at the camp able to bypass coordinated entry, the system that refers single adults to shelter? Shelter beds are full on a daily basis, sometimes by 10 a.m.
3) Is the chief unaware that there are hundreds of unsheltered people every night in Minneapolis and the surrounding metro area? That it is not just as easy as saying “I need shelter,” because the shelters are full?
4) Are the mayor’s office and the Office to End Homelessness educating the fire chief that shelter beds are currently full for homeless single adults? There is nowhere else for single adults to go, so they ride the train and sleep in camps to stay safe.
I was truly shocked by the messaging that the fire chief was sending. It only helped spread misinformation about homeless people and their options.
Allysen Hoberg, Richfield
The writer is program director for PRISM, a nonprofit focused on healthy food, proper clothing and housing stability.
MINNEAPOLIS 2040 PLAN
Chicken-or-egg questions on housing, race and poverty
Since the writer of the Nov. 20 counterpoint “2040 doesn’t tackle the real problem, which is poverty” openly acknowledges that affluent communities like his own wish to be poverty-exclusive, perhaps a more suitable yard sign would be “All Are Welcome Here — If You Can Afford It.” The author laments the poverty afflicting north Minneapolis without acknowledging the links between socioeconomic and racial inequalities. Indeed, Minneapolis should focus on the root causes of poverty. But until those of us privileged enough to live in safe, affluent neighborhoods can recognize how we might be implicitly benefiting from this institutional racism, this will be a tough goal to accomplish.
Cara Meyer, Golden Valley
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After reading Thomas P. Moyer’s counterpoint about Minneapolis’ 2040 plan and poverty, I agreed on many points, but I have one major disagreement. While having safe housing doesn’t automatically move one out of poverty, lack of safe housing is a real barrier to doing so. Imagine applying for a job and having no permanent address, or ask: Would you hire someone who admits to living in a car? Housing is an initiative that first works to provide people with safe, affordable housing, then addresses the other issues they have. It’s true, housing doesn’t solve poverty, but it’s a good first step. That, along with living wages, will give people hope and provide a way out of poverty.
Randy Mattson, Jordan
Used personal e-mail account for government work, so …
I am anticipating President Donald Trump and his ardent supporters will renew the chant “lock her up, lock her up” at the next rally. The focus of the rant will be Ivanka Trump, who purportedly used her personal e-mail account in correspondence with White House aides, in violation of federal rules.
Jo Brinda, Crystal
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The real issue regarding Ivanka Trump’s use of private e-mail to conduct government business is not whether or not she knew it was illegal. It is the fact she was appointed a senior adviser in the first place. She had no significant experience in government before the assignment. The real issue is nepotism.
Jim Bartos, Brooklyn Park
Request for Rep.-elect Omar: Vote Nancy Pelosi for speaker
To U.S. Rep. elect-Ilhan Omar: I’m a woman constituent and lifelong Democrat who voted and phone-banked for you. Congratulations on your victory. Please support Nancy Pelosi for speaker. She has the experience and work ethic to facilitate needed changes for the good of the country. Please examine the background, motives and qualifications of those who oppose her before deciding that “new blood is good for the party” without sound reasoning. Actually getting beneficial legislation passed and preventing destructive legislation is the most important criterion now. Ms. Pelosi is the party’s most qualified person to ensure that.
Shannon Smith, Hopkins